I think it's more fun to go out caroling, especially if it's snowing. This gives you lots of opportunity to brag to the folks at work about singing in the "freezing cold." It also lets you meet your neighbors, if they're not already singing with you, and bring your songs to folks who might not be able to get out to holiday events. If you do go out, remember to wear gloves, not mitts, so it's easier to turn pages.
Anybody who loves music should come along, young and old. See what you can do in harmony, and try a couple of songs from another tradition. If folks want to sing the old favourites and you want a little variety, try having each person sing a different verse, or have men sing one verse and women the next. If folks are shy about singing, they can play percussion on a toy drum or a shaker made from a small plastic yogurt container filled with beans. Kazoos are another great way to liven up your songfest. Try kazoo and shaker backup to your best singers!
Music and lyrics:
Is your ensemble long on reading music but short on cash? Do a quick search on the Choral Public Domain library (http://www.cpdl.org) for the title of the song and you'll find thousands of free arrangements of traditional songs from all over the world, including Israel, Africa and Sweden, and some new ones recently published by up and coming writers. If you have lots of women and a couple of men, this is also a great place to find unusual arrangements.
If you learn by ear, Cyberbass (http://www.cyberbass.com) can play your part for you online. They have a special section for Traditional Carols. If your group is ambitious, you can even learn your part for Handel's Messiah!
If it's lyrics you're looking for, Oxford University Press has a special page of lyrics just for the holidays (http://www.oup.co.uk/music/xmas). If you know the song you're looking for, the Astra Lyrics web (http://lyrics.astraweb.com) seems to have every song ever written. It will also give you the lyric arrangements of just about everybody who ever sang the song. Want the lyrics to "Silent Night" as sung by Amy Grant, Perry Como or The Manhattan Transfer? This is the place.
Reviving the musicians:
Make sure you have a warm place you can all return to when you're worn out and chilly. Hot drinks will warm those vocal chords, and you can bet you'll be hungry (these winter menus provide great ideas) -- singing is hard work! And finally, make sure you get folks to put the holiday songfest on their calendar for next year. You never know, maybe they won't want to wait until next year!
Victoria Gray is the creator and director of Choirs At Work, an organization dedicated to bringing the joy of singing with others to working adults.
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